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Author Topic: SteppIR  (Read 3029 times)
W6UV
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Posts: 538




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« on: May 30, 2013, 07:11:26 PM »

I have a Hy-Gain TH-7DX on my tower now and it works fine, but I've been thinking about something a little bigger and with more band coverage.

One that immediately comes to mind is the SteppIR DB36, which, with the 80M dipole option, covers 80-10M in one antenna.

I have two concerns with a SteppIR. One is the reliability of the mechanical and electrical components. Obviously, it's much more complicated both mechanically and electrically than a trapped yagi. There's the motors that move the element tapes and the electronics that control them. Then there's the issue of weather survive-ability. I'm on top of a ridge that gets a fair amount of wind. Typical gusts in the winter are 70-80 MPH. Icing is not a problem in my area (NorCal), nor is lightning (electric storms are rare -- perhaps one every 3-4 years).

Anyone have any experience with the big SteppIR beams?
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NN4ZZ
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Posts: 36




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« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2013, 02:56:21 AM »

Are you a member of the SteppIR Yahoo forum?

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SteppIR/

There are over 35,000 posting there.....

Regards, Al / NN4ZZ
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K7HC
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« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2013, 05:17:35 PM »

I had a 4 element SteppIR up from 1996 until this past month, and we had some severe winds during that time.  I found the antenna to be VERY good, both electrically and mechanically.  No problems and great results on all bands.  It would still be up but we had to QSY to another QTH.  I am getting a new DB18E and will put that up next.  Will have 3e0 and 40 meters and all on one tower.  Not only does the SteppIR work on all the designed bands, but ANY PART of those bands.  You don't have to pick a portion (CW or Phone) of the bands.  You will not go wrong.  You can see my previous setup at www.k7hc.com     
Clay-K7HC
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K3VAT
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Posts: 709




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« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2013, 06:11:26 PM »

I have a Hy-Gain TH-7DX on my tower now and it works fine, but I've been thinking about something a little bigger ...

The SteppIR DB 36 is a B-I-G antenna.  Its boom is 50% longer than the Hy-Gain you now have and the longest elements are ~50'.  The weight is a whopping 160 pounds (add about 10% more weight for 80M).  You better have a very stout tower, mast and rotator assembly.

Are you a member of the SteppIR Yahoo forum?
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SteppIR/
There are over 35,000 posting there.....
Regards, Al / NN4ZZ

Al is right on.  You can search general problems or issues specific to a certain antenna such as the DB-36.

The other top-notch antenna manufacturer is Optibeam, out of Germany.  You might want to just peruse their fine collection of aluminum.

GL, 73, Rich, K3VAT
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VA1CQ
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« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2013, 11:39:38 AM »

People have been concerned about potential problems with Steppir motors since the antenna was first introduced. If you research among actual users, I think you'll find there is no reason to worry. Yes, they can fail but everything can fail. There is no indication that failed motors are common. The antenna itself can survive winds equally as well as a metal yagi.

I have a 3-element Steppir with 30-meter option installed in Japan. It's one of the best inventions since SSB. Without turning the yagi...hit a button: you're beaming to the U.S...hit a button (180-degree mode): the U.S. fades out and almost instantly you're beaming to SE Asia....hit a button (dual direction mode): you're simultaneously beaming to the U.S. and SE Asia and hearing stations from both directions. It feels like magic after using dipoles and wires.
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W6GX
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2013, 10:20:34 PM »

If you have a fixed tower you should consider how easily you could make repairs should something does go wrong.  A Steppir also may require periodic maintenance checks that require the antenna to be close to the ground.  If you live in a high wind area then the maintenance checks may need to be done more frequently.  If you want all-band performance there's a price to be paid. Unfortunately there's no free lunch when it comes to antenna choices.  I also live in a high wind area. I chose a moderate sized trapless tribander that also works on the WARC bands with a tuner. So in effect I have a killer performance on the money bands but with reduced performance on the WARC bands.  On the positive side I have no maintenance or reliability issues. My other option would be a LPDA or a five-band yagi however I would give up the good performance on the money bands.  GL with your choice.

73,
Jonathan W6GX
« Last Edit: June 03, 2013, 10:28:53 PM by KF7BBJ » Logged
W6UV
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Posts: 538




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« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2013, 03:11:43 PM »

I have a Hy-Gain TH-7DX on my tower now and it works fine, but I've been thinking about something a little bigger ...

The SteppIR DB 36 is a B-I-G antenna.  Its boom is 50% longer than the Hy-Gain you now have and the longest elements are ~50'.  The weight is a whopping 160 pounds (add about 10% more weight for 80M).  You better have a very stout tower, mast and rotator assembly.

Shouldn't be a problem. My tower is rated for 50 sq. ft. at 110 MPH, so the 17.5 sq. ft. load of the DB36 is well within that. My mast and rotator are equally robust.
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K6AER
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Posts: 3515




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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2013, 09:09:00 PM »

In 2003 I bought the first four element SteppIR. I put it on top of my tower at 105 feet. The antenna has been hit by lightning four times, has survived a F2 tornado. Hundreds of ice and blizzard storms and UV radiation you would not believe at 7000 feet. The antenna has never failed me. I did lose the controller during the last lightning strike and after the antenna was out of warranty for  8 years,  Mike at Steppir replaced the unit at no cost.

God I wish other manufactures were as professional as the folks at SteppIR. What is interesting is the antenna I had before was a TH-7. I never looked back.
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W6GX
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Posts: 2557




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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2013, 01:09:21 AM »

Mike,

I have no doubt what you said about YOUR antenna is true. OTOH there are many Steppir owners who openly say one shouldn't consider a Steppir unless he/she has a retractable tower.  Would it be fair to say that your unit is an outlier and not representative of all Steppir antennas?

Deep down I really want a four-element Steppir. The only road block is the reliability concern.  I already own a retractable tower.  I'm afraid of a breakdown during an important dxpedition.  If I could have a backup antenna on a second tower I would go for the Steppir. However the XYL says a second tower is out of the question.  I think the Steppir is an excellent choice for some. However it's not a no-compromise antenna by any means.

Ps I hope to meet you in person at one of the MHDXA meetings.

73,
Jonathan W6GX
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 01:16:47 AM by KF7BBJ » Logged
WB6MMV
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Posts: 97




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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2013, 11:36:21 AM »

Jonathan:

I  have a steppir (3 element) on a retractable tower (TX-455) which I put up in 2002. I have never had a failure of the antenna.  I have put a coat of paint on the fiberglass elements around 5 years ago, but from a mechanical and electrical standpoint, I have not had any failures.  While it might seem to be a concern, I would not be too worried about a failure during a contest.  Most of the writers to eham have had basic initial installation issues, not ongoing problems.  Its pretty reliable and the company is responsive to customer issues.

This has clearly been an excellent antenna for me. 

Ken WB6MMV
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